On Saturday, I wanted to do a long road ride. However, I ended up sleeping later than I wanted, and due to the short days, I had to choose a shorter route. I decided to ride out to Paragon, IN, a route I’ve done a few times, but it has been a while. I ended up with 47.8 miles of riding in just under 4 hours. Here’s a map of the route.
It was a chilly ride, mostly in the 30s, with the temperature topping out at around 40 degrees. Even with the shorter route, I decided to bring lights, since I wasn’t sure how long the ride would take me. I thought I would be back before dark, but I wanted to be prepared in case something unexpected came up.
I started off riding through town. Not my favorite way to start a ride, but sometimes it’s necessary. I rode through Cascades park, which is always beautiful. Most of the leaves have fallen now and I was struck by just how many of the trees lining the creek there are Sycamores. Their white branches are very noticeable without leaves.
Traffic was incredibly light. I had just my own shadow to keep me company.
This is, in my opinion, a sign which should never exist. It says “Bike Route End.” I understand that the signed route ends here, but it sends the wrong message entirely. In fact, I didn’t even realize I was on a signed route until I saw this sign. Ugh.
After that I crossed State Road 37, and had a lovely ride along some rolling hills.
In the middle of the next shot, in the distance, you can see State Road 37 coming down over the top of a hill.
The road plunged into a valley and turned flat for several miles. Somewhere along here the road named changed to Bottom Road.
Here I started a large group of crows who suddenly took flight and swooped overhead.
I was struck by how scrappy the landscape appeared, below.
In this area, the road never stays flat for long. In this case I enjoyed four miles of flat, easy cruising, before the road climbed up to a ridge. Here is part of the long climb.
This “See Rock City Today” shack had me puzzled. Apparently, it’s a thing.
The road alternated between hilly and flat, for a bit.
Eventually, I enjoyed a long, fast descent from the ridgetop down into the river bottoms surrounding the West Fork of the White River — the same fork which I crossed the previous weekend in my ride to Gosport. In fact, now that I look at the map a bit more, I see that Paragon and Gosport are fairly close together, with a glorified crossroads called Whitaker in between. It might be fun to string all of these towns together in one ride.
The route had me riding an out-and-back stretch to the town of Paragon. 2/3 times I’ve ridden this route before, I had skipped the town stop. This time I decided to head into Paragon for a look-see, and possibly to top off the water bottles. This ended up being about a 5-mile flat round trip. It would have been easy, if not for the headwind across exposed flat fields on the way out.
I stopped a small gas station/market in Paragon. I bought some water and as I was getting ready to leave, two kids rode up on BMX bikes, skidding to a stop. They asked where I had come from, and where I was going, and their eyes lit up when I told them I was riding around 50 miles today. “Welcome to Paragon,” they told me. We then had something resembling the following exchange:
“Don’t your legs hurt?” they asked. I said they did when I first started riding long distances, but I just built up to longer rides. “Have you ever been mugged?” was the next question. No, I haven’t. “What would you do if someone mugged you on your bike?” “I don’t know, what would you do if someone mugged you on foot, or in a car?” “I know what I’d do,” the kids said confidently. “I would beat them up!” (making a punching motion). One of the kids then said, “I’ve beat someone up already. His name was Logan. He’s in high school. He’s a real chump!”
And with that, they headed into the store, and I rolled out. I kept my stops very brief during this ride, since I had limited time.
So now I was back on flat roads, this time with a wonderful tailwind. The return leg of the out-and-back stretch went by a lot faster.
Once I rejoined the loop, I continued heading east for a while, and I held onto a solid tailwind for several more miles. There were some climbs during this section, but the tailwind still helped.
Soon I crossed State Road 37 and found myself in Morgan-Monroe State Forest.
Here’s a shot of my new light on the Bianchi, which also shows the Banjo Brothers handlebar bag well.
I rode on and soon was on more familiar roads. I told Old 37 back to town. I was riding into the sun much of the way and it was difficult to see at times.
I especially enjoyed the downhill just south of the Musgrave Orchards, which was a rare treat because I normally ride this stretch of road in the opposite direction.
The sun was getting low in the sky. I was glad I had my lights, not so much because I really needed them, as because I didn’t feel any need to rush home before the sun set.
I went through Cascades Park on my way home. It was interesting riding through it in both directions.
I had an uneventful, surprisingly quiet ride through town, with very little traffic. I gazed over at just the right moment from the top of a hill and saw the sun setting over the horizon.
Just a couple of minutes after this serene moment, a car passed me too close and the passengers tried to push me off the road! They actually stuck their arms out the window to try to push me over as they passed. Fortunately they failed, and I remained upright and unhurt, but I was shaken by this incident and it certainly broke the peaceful mood of the ride. I tried to get their license plate number, but I couldn’t read it clearly. The bastards got away!
So, it was a very enjoyable ride, until the last two miles or so. It’s hard not to let that one fleeting, terrible moment color my perception of the ride as a whole, but I have to concede that I enjoyed the ride overall. I hope nothing like that ever happens again …